Switzerland supports UN-led Xinjiang investigation

Ethnic minority women gather at the International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, during a government-organised trip for foreign journalists in April. Keystone / Wu Hong

More than 40 countries, including Switzerland, have urged China to allow the UN human rights chief immediate access to the Xinjiang region to look into reports that over a million people have been unlawfully detained, with some subjected to torture or forced labour.

This content was published on June 22, 2021 minutes

Beijing denies all allegations of abuse of Uyghurs and describes the camps, in the northwest of the country, as vocational training facilities to combat religious extremism.

“Credible reports indicate that over a million people have been arbitrarily detained in Xinjiang and that there is widespread surveillance disproportionately targeting Uyghurs and members of other minorities and restrictions on fundamental freedoms and Uyghur culture,” the joint statement to the UN Human Rights Council said on Tuesday.

“We urge China to allow immediate, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent observers, including the High Commissioner,” it added, referring to Michelle Bachelet, whose office has been negotiating access since September 2018.

Liu Yuyin, spokesman for China’s mission to the UN in Geneva, said on Monday that Bachelet’s visit should be a “friendly one” aimed at promoting cooperation “rather than making the so-called ‘investigation’ under the presumption of guilt”.

Last July China attacked Switzerland and 26 other countries for criticising a sweeping new national security law imposed on Hong Kong. Beijing denounced “political motivations” and “unjustified accusations”.

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